Manchester City Council

Being Accountable

This month sees a new Our Manchester initiative to increase transparency and demonstrate accountability of members of the Council's Executive Committee. Twice a year each Executive Member will submit a report to the most appropriate Scrutiny Committee of their activities over the previous six months and be questioned on it, as always in public and free-to-view online. I gave my first report to Economy Scrutiny this morning and it is reproduced below.

Manchester City Council 

Report for Information 

Report to:


Report of:


This report provides an overview of work undertaken and progress towards the 

delivery of the Council’s priorities as set out in the Our Manchester strategy for those 

areas within the portfolio of the Leader of the Council. 


The Committee is asked to note and comment on the report. 


1. Introduction 

1.1 The Our Manchester Strategy was formally adopted by the Council in 

January 2016 and sets the ambitions for the city for the next ten years, to 

2025, for Manchester to be: 

• Thriving – creating great jobs and healthy businesses 

• Filled with talent – both home-grown talent and attracting the best in 

the world 

• Fair – with equal chances for all to unlock their potential 

• A great place to live – with lots of things to do 

• Buzzing with connections – including world-class transport and 


1.2 Executive Members are collectively and individually responsible for supporting 

the delivery of the Our Manchester Strategy and for providing political 

oversight and direction to officers for better outcomes for Manchester 

residents. In October, the Executive published its collective political priorities 

and those of individual Executive Members, all of which are aligned to the Our 

Manchester Strategy. 

1.3 This report sets out how I as the Leader of the Council have sought to deliver 

these priorities over the past six months and is the first of twice yearly reports 

to this Committee, with reports being submitted to Scrutiny Committees at their 

May and November meetings from now on. A complete list of all my activities 

on behalf of the Council can be found in my public service contract 

2. Leader of the Council - Portfolio 

2.1 As Leader of the Council , my portfolio consists of overall policy co-ordination, 

economic development, external relationships, support on regeneration (North 

Manchester and City Centre), legal services, and the digital economy 

(business development). In addition, in the agreed Executive Priorities 2016 – 

2020, I have as priorities the north/south divide (locally and nationally), 

personal relationship with Manchester Residents (Our Manchester) and 

Devolution (ensuring it delivers for residents) 


3. Activity over the Past Six Months 

3.1 The most important area of activity over the past six months has been leading 

the Executive through the process to set a three year budget 2017 – 2020. As 

well as meetings with Executive Members, this also entails regular meetings 

with the City Treasurer, Executive Member for Finance and other Senior 

officers. A first meeting has taken place with the Trade Union Forum to 

discuss the overall approach to the budget. 

3.2 Perhaps almost as important is the appointment of a new Chief Executive. 

Having established the job role and person specification, I have with 

Councillor Flanagan appointed Penna as recruitment consultants following a 

competitive process. As well as Chairing the appointment panel I have had 

around a dozen lengthy phone calls or face-to-face meetings with potential 

candidates and have maintained regular dialogue with the lead recruitment 

consultant. Arrangements have been put in place for stakeholder involvement 

in the recruitment process, including non- Executive Councillors. 

3.3 Following the adoption of the Our Manchester Strategy, the Manchester 

Leaders’ Forum has been renamed the Our Manchester Forum and its 

membership is being reviewed, including the appointment of new independent 

members. A framework has been put together to allocate lead responsibility 

for all the ‘we wills’ in the strategy and the performance framework has been 

finalised. This year’s State of the City Report sees the transfer of performance 

monitoring from the old to new framework. 

3.4 In terms of Our Manchester, as well as attending two training workshops, I 

have given the introduction at a number of others which have included 

members, officers, and partner organisations amongst the participants. I have 

taken part in question and answers at all the Staff Listening in Action sessions 

held so far. I have regular meetings with the political and officer leads, 

Councillor Sue Murphy and Sara Todd, to review progress. 

3.5 The Health and Social Care integration and devolution agenda has had a 

number of major developments formally approved through the Health and 

Wellbeing Board but brokered through many other meetings. The three 

pillars of the Manchester locality plan are crystallising in a single accredited 

care organisation for the provision of out-of-hospital care, a single clinical 

commissioning group in a formal partnership with the City Council to provide a 

single commissioning function, and agreement to establish a single hospital 

trust for the city containing all three general hospitals. 

3.6 At Greater Manchester level, as well as being Vice-Chair of the Combined 

Authority (CA), I have specific responsibility for economic policy and for Rail 

North / Transport for the North. My economic responsibilities include being 

Deputy Chair of the Manchester Growth Company Board, which is still in the 

process of assimilating a number of previously free-standing companies into 

the new group structure. The CA is reviewing and revising the Greater 

Manchester Strategy underpinned by some “Deep Dive” research carried out 

by New Economy with the aim of maintaining the growth and jobs priority but 

with a bigger emphasis on inclusivity. Responding to the Brexit vote and 

subsequent impacts has also been a priority. 

3.7 I am a member of the CA’s Transition Task Force, which has overseen the 

preparation of the various parliamentary orders required to give the devolution 

deal full effect, and the changes to the CA required to deliver the deal. I am a 

member of the newly formed Resources Committee which is also the 

appointments panel for the CA Chief Executive. 

3.8 I Chair the Association of Northern Rail Partnership Authorities (ANRPA) 

which is the parent body of Rail North and appoints local transport authority 

representatives to the Transport for the North Partnership (TfN) Board. 

Association meetings receive regular reports from Transpennine Express and 

Northern Rail on the progress of the new rail franchises. TfN is leading on 

developing major pan-northern transport schemes underpinned by the 

northern independent economic review. TfN is moving towards becoming a 

statutory body at which point TfN will merge into ANRPA which will be the 

accountable body for both Rail North & the TfN Partnership Board. I maintain 

regular dialogue with the Chair of HS2 and we were actively consulted 

regarding the proposed new alignment into Piccadilly Station. 

3.9 I have initiated a number of service reviews. That of our highways function 

has led to the re-creation of a Highways Department led by a Director of 

Highways. A review of HR & OD, management, and lean systems is leading 

to a new people strategy being developed. This is in part to respond to 

operational issues but also to what staff told us in the ‘Bheard’ survey. With 

Councillor Flanagan, I have also initiated a review of special grade posts, the 

outcome of which will go to Personnel and Council in December. 

3.10 I have also initiated a wide-ranging review of city centre management which is 

due to report in December. 

3.11 I represent the Council on the board of Manchester Airport Holdings Ltd, the 

main board of Manchester Airport Group. The Group is taking through a plan 

for major changes to Manchester Airport to bring apron & terminal capacity 

both up to the capacity of the runway and to the quality passengers now 

expect. An important role for me is ensuring we maintain a good working 

relationship with IFM, our equity partner. MAG has also carried out a 

governance review although this has not led to any major changes. I have 

also been involved in the appointment of two new non-Executive Directors to 

the board. 

3.12 City Centre Regeneration and Strategic Development merit a report in their 

own right and I meet each of the Strategic Director (Development) and Head 

of City Centre Regeneration once a month to review progress but I will stick to 

a few headlines. The City Centre Infrastructure Group has continued meeting 

regularly and has slightly extended it’s remit to look at cycling and bus 

schemes feeding into the city centre, and proposals to increase capacity 

around the Regent Road / Water Street junction. I and the Chief Executive 

are meeting regularly with our Salford counterparts to discuss regional centre 


3.13 Major development discussions I have been involved in include Northern 

Gateway, the Factory, the BBC site and First Street. I also represent the 

Council on the board of Manchester Life. A company structure for the Sharp 

Project, the Space Project, and One Central Park has now been established 

under the name of Manchester Creative Digital Assets Ltd. I have been very 

involved in our Smart City work, including the establishment of City Verve, our 

internet of things Innovation UK funded demonstrator project. 

3.14 In July I stood down as Chair of Core Cities (UK) having initiated the 

Inclusive Growth Commission and the Core City work on whole place 

leadership. Manchester continues to have the policy and research portfolio in 

the Core Cities Cabinet. I continue to Chair the LGA’s City Regions Board, a 

co-sponsor of the Inclusive Growth Commission and leading for the LGA on 

city policy, devolution, employment and skills, and English governance post – 

Brexit. As well as being an ex –officio on the LGA Executive I also sit on the 

Business Rates Localisation Task and Finish Group. 

3.15 I hold monthly one-to-one meetings with each member of the Executive, at 

which amongst other things is an opportunity to talk about key service delivery 

issues in their portfolios. These are supplemented by numerous ad hoc 

meetings. I also have a regular meeting with the Chair of the Children’s 

Services Improvement Board to discuss her report to Ministers.

Leader of the Council 
Delivering the Our Manchester Strategy: 
Economy Scrutiny Committee - 7 December 2016 
Make a comment

There are 2 responses to “Being Accountable”

  1. Chrissie McCall Says:

    Your cv looks impressive.I was under the impression that the new Chief Executive has already been appointed? Howe much commission did you have to pay to the recruiters? Also what about accountability and transparency to the residents of Manchester, not just other Council Members? Can you explain "special grade posts" please

  2. Richard Leese Says:

    @Chrissie McCall. The Chief Executive is appointed by the full Council which meets to consider the appointment panel's recommendation next week. The recruitment agency will be paid a fee of between £10k and 18k the difference being an as yet not determined performance element. Special grade posts are senior posts who's salaries are not covered by nationally agreed pay scales. Scrutiny committees are open to the public, are live streamed and are available for six months on catch-up which so the Scrutiny of Executive members is very visible to the public. There is also a facility for any Manchester citizen to ask an Executive member a question and have the question and response published on the Council's website



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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